8 powerful portraits of ordinary women changing the world for the better.

The Women Deliver Fourth Global Conference in 2016 was the largest gathering of people focusing on women's issues in more than a decade.

The event, held every three years since 2007, brought together people from around the world to discuss heath, well-being and rights of women. The conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, brought together nearly 6,000 people from 169 different countries.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (center) takes part in the conference. Photo by Jens Astrup/AFP/Getty Images.


The power of these women sharing their personal stories and ideas with one another cannot be denied.

It's emotional. It's empowering. And it's a reminder that when we listen to and support one another, it's possible to tackle these challenges on a global scale.

Here are eight of their stories shared with portrait photographer Andreas Bro.

(Edited for length and clarity.)

1. Praise Emenike, Nigeria

Praise works with Family Health International to get resources and services for people with HIV/AIDS.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"The biggest issue today is gender-based violence. We have gender based inequalities everywhere. In the place where I work, women would need consent from their husband to access a simple HIV test. That shouldn't be an issue, to have access. They should be able to decide for themselves. And women who have unintended pregnancies, they should be able to decide this is what I want to do, this is how many children I want to have, and sometimes they don’t have that opportunity."

2. Clementina Ilukol, Uganda

Clementina is a leader of young midwives.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

“The best advice I have received is to take much time at school and acquiring higher levels of education and not be rushing into marriage. I am still single, and I feel I should work hard as far as school issues are concerned, and after that I will get married."

3. Laraib Abid, Pakistan

Laraib is a senior manager for Pakistan Afghanistan Tajikistan Regional Integration Program (PATRIP) Foundation. She works to empower women living in the border areas of these nations.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"The main issue over here is that still majority of the women aren't considered equal to men. Their choice, mobility, wishes all are dependent on men. ... She is supposed to look after the family, cook, and clean home even if she is earning. This is a grassroots/micro level problem that directly affects the overall behavior and life of the people. Until daughters and sons both [are] treated equally, we can't come out of domestic violence, sexual assaults/harassment, even teasing, honor killing, etc. When a daughter is asked to iron clothes of her brother, polish his shoes, cook for him, and that brother doesn’t take a glass of water by himself and can take decisions of his sister's life, then how come we can achieve equality? The institutions, i.e., education, marriage, politics, health, family, and media, all gets influenced by this."

4. Gretchen, U.S.

Gretchen is a retired science teacher and school administrator.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"The best advice I have received is be yourself and work for others because you gain power by working with others."

5. Chidinma Akpa, Nigeria

Chidinma, in her final year of medical school, studys surgical education.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"The biggest challenge today is gender inequality. I would say most of the work women do goes unrecognized, unappreciated, unpaid for and most times they are even looked down upon ... . At times a woman is even the brains behind all the work being done. But somehow you find out that the appreciation is given to a man. It is repackaged, and they say 'with the help of' ... and the whole thing goes to a man. Especially back home in Africa. So I want us to, in terms of intellectual progress and creativity and innovation, let's give women a chance to come and stand side by side."

6. Denicia Cadena, U.S.

Denicia is a policy director at Young Women United, an organization that leads community organizing efforts for women of color in New Mexico.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"I think most of what I've learned about change-making in this world has come from my mother, my sisters, my grandmothers, and I think in a different connected way from my ancestors. But it's really about focusing work in the community and that the people who are the most impacted are the experts of their own lives and will have the best solutions we need for our communities."

7. Edidiong Michael Umoh, Nigeria

Edidiong is a maternal child health officer.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"The best advice I got was from my godmother. She's a judge in one of the states in my country. She used to say something to me when I was living with her at my [second] year of university: 'Whatever your hands find to do, do it as your are doing it onto God and not onto man because men will never reward you.' Always learn how to do whatever it is that you want to do with the mindset that you are not doing it for anybody, you are doing it for yourself."

8. Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, Afghanistan

Sadiqa is the executive director of the Oruj Learning Centre, which focuses on the education of women and girls.

Photo by Andreas Bro.

"Well, I will say the biggest issue for me is that women [are] seen as an issue ... . This concept, this understanding should be transformed into something brilliant that both men and women are active and a productive part of a whole society. Without women, this world cannot move on. So once this understanding is global, is universal, we will not see women as an issue."

Thankfully, this is a conference for dreamers and doers.

Following the conference, participants put together a document cataloging 100 of the best ideas and solutions to come out of the event.

And it's available to everyone.

Women have come a long way. But with generations of women still fighting for a fair shake, a good education, economic opportunities, and health services, we have no time to get complacent.

via USO

Army Capt. Justin Meredith used the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to read to his son and family while deployed in the Middle East.

True

One of the biggest challenges deployed service members face is the feeling of being separated from their families, especially when they have children. It's also very stressful for children to be away from parents who are deployed for long periods of time.

For the past four years, the USO has brought deployed service members and their families closer through a wonderful program that allows them to read together. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program gives deployed service members the ability to choose a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child.

Keep Reading Show less

Cayce LaCorte explains why virginity doesn't exist.

The concept of virginity is a very loaded issue in American culture. If a woman loses hers when she's too young she can be slut-shamed. If a man remains a virgin for too long, he can be bullied for not being manly enough.

There is also a whole slew of religious mind games associated with virginity that can give people some serious psychological problems associated with sex.

Losing one's virginity has also been blown up way beyond proportion. It's often believed that it's a magical experience—it's usually not. Or that after having sex for the first time people can really start to enjoy living life—not the case.

What if we just dropped all of the stigmas surrounding virginity and instead, replaced them with healthy attitudes toward sex and relationships?

Writer Cayce LaCorte is going viral on TikTok for the simple way she's taught her five daughters to think about virginity. They don't have to. LaCorte shared her parenting ideas on TikTok in response to mom-influencer Nevada Shareef's question: "Name something about the way you raised your kids that people think is weird but you think is healthy."

Keep Reading Show less

The Rock and Oscar Rodriguez on Instagram.

As the old saying goes, “do good and it will come back to you in unexpected ways.”

Sometimes those “unexpected ways” come in four-wheel drive.

Oscar Rodriguez is a Navy veteran, church leader and personal trainer in Culver City, California. More important than that, he is a good person with a giving heart. In addition to taking care of his 75-year-old mom, he also makes meals for women victims of domestic violence.

Rodriguez thought he won the ultimate prize: going to a special VIP screening of Dwayne Johnson's new film "Red Notice," and getting pulled up on stage by The Rock himself. But it only got better from there.

Thanking him for his service, praising him for giving back to his community and bonding with him as a fellow “mamma’s boy,” Johnson stands with Rodriguez on the stage exchanging hugs … until Johnson says “I wanna show you something real quick.”

Keep Reading Show less

@bluffbakes on Tiktok

Chloe Sexton—baker, business owner, mother—knows all too well about "daddy privilege," that is, when men receive exorbitant amounts of praise for doing normal parental duties. You know, the ones that moms do without so much as a thank you.

In a lighthearted (while nonetheless biting) TikTok video, Chloe shares a "fun little story about 'daddy privilege'" that has now gone viral—no doubt due in part because working moms can relate to this on a deep, personal and infuriating level.

Chloe's TED Talks-worthy rant begins with:

"My husband has a job. I have a business, my husband has a job. Could not make that any clearer, right? Well, my bakery requires that we buy certain wholesale ingredients at this place called Restaurant Depot every week. You've seen me do videos of it before where I'm, like, wearing him or was massively pregnant buying 400 pounds of flour and 100 pounds of butter, and that's a weekly thing. The list goes on and on, like — it's a lot."
Keep Reading Show less